This introductory essay uses Thaddeus Stevens's comments on the Fourteenth Amendment to set the stage for essays that consider the relationship between citizenship and freedom after emancipation, providing a succinct and up-to-date summary of Reconstruction historiography. One important trend has been the continuous shortcomings of the comparative study of emancipation, an approach that situates the US experience in a global context. Thomas Holt employs this method in the opening chapter just as he has done in his broader scholarship; he follows a trend initiated by W. E. B. Du Bois in his magisterial work, Black Reconstruction. Much of the scholarship between World War II and Eric Foner's 1988 study responded, in various ways, to the former dominance of the Dunning School. Since Foner, Steven Hahn has emphasized the continuities of black political mobilization, while other scholars have stressed the limitations placed on the agency of freedpeople and poor whites by their class position. This collection of research essays does not necessarily speak to a single shared theme but showcases a series of innovative approaches to some of the central problems of Reconstruction.
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